In developing Windows CE, Microsoft went to great strides to make it "look-and-feel" like a desktop version of the Operating System. While this has been a successful plan, it is clear that even Microsoft is diverting a bit from this with the latest version of Windows Mobile Edition for the Pocket PC. While it is true that it retains the Start button, many of the menus and options have changed for ease of use.
Not to be outdone, Henri Spagnolo has written j7xx Menu for Handheld PCs. Henri, who is owner and webmaster of the popular j7xx Handheld PC site, wrote this program based on his popular PSION application, MenuS5.
J7xx Menu is simply an application that allows users to open applications, documents, utilities or any number of other items with simply a tap of the screen rather than multiple taps using the traditional Start button or Hot Buttons. By hiding the Taskbar, j7xx menu occupies the entire display, effectively replacing the traditional Start button and Taskbar. Use this application for any amount of time and you will abandon them altogether.
J7xx Menu is completely customizable and can open any of the built-in applications on your HPC, any installed applications, any documents, folders and even Internet links. Further, each menu has 10 screens with 26 slots available on each screen. This means that one menu can have 260 possible items available for instant access. Additional menus can be created, making the possibilities of how many items that can be opened limited to the memory on your HPC.
Finally, j7xx Menu allows users to control many different aspects of their HPC within the application. Users can turn off the display, soft-reset or change the volume or contrast just to name a few.
The installation of j7xx Menu is simple and occupies approximately 1MB of storage space on your HPC. To install the application, download the .zip file from the j7xx website to your desktop PC. Next, unzip the files to your desktop then move the j7xxmenu.ARM.exe (this file name will be different if you are using an MIPS device) file to your HPC via Active Sync. After moving the file, on your HPC double-tap the executable and it will begin the install process. J7xx Menu can be installed either in main storage memory on a Compact Flash card.
With j7xx Menu running, the application's interface is clean, simply and effective. Users will not immediately the need to hide the Windows Taskbar (to do this, hold the ALT key and tap the taskbar. Check the Hide checkbox and tap OK). The different menus available are listed on the left-hand menu while the function options are on the top taskbar. The left-hand menu bar is completely customizable to fit a users needs. By tapping the properties icon (3rd icon on the top menu bar), the names of the menus listed can be changed along with the color schemes. So for example, if you never plan on using the miscellaneous menu, you can remove it or rename it to something that will be more helpful for you. Finally, you can also tell j7xx Menu where your Applications reside (especially handy if you have many of your applications installed on a Storage Card) and where your documents reside).
Adding items to each of the menus is simple and user-friendly. To start, tap the Add icon, the first icon on the upper taskbar. First you are prompted to select which letter this new item is to be listed under. Use the pull-down menu to select the letter, remembering that only one item can be assigned to each letter on a menu.
After the letter assignment, j7xx Menu prompts users to select what type of item is being added. This can be applications, built-in applications, documents, folders or hyperlink.
Depending on what type of entry is chosen, the next dialog box will vary. For built-in applications, a simply scrolling box is presented with each of the applications names that are included on your HPC. For Applications, documents, folders and hyperlinks, an explorer-like box is shown to allow users to navigate to that item. In my example, I have chosen to create an item for Text Maker which is stored on my Storage Card. To add this, all I needed to do was use Explorer to navigate to my \Storage Card\Softmaker directory then click the TMC.exe file.
Once the application is selected, users can name the application to something more friendly for easier reference. Once it is named, the main display shows the application that has been added. To access this application, tap the letter corresponding with it and it will immediately launch. You can also type the letter corresponding to the application you wish to open. So, in my example, I would type T and Text Maker would start. This function is identical to any menu that is in the foreground of j7xx menu. The need to rummage through Explorer is now gone.
To add items to another menu, simply tap the menu you want to display. For example, if you are adding documents, tap Documents on the left-hand menu and you can add your documents there. This organizes your HPC into straight-forward, logical areas which are easier to remember and access.
In addition to its main purpose, j7xx Menu also has the ability to natively adjust many settings on your HPC. First are the built-in calculator and calendar functions. While both of these features can be added to a menu in the application, these simple pop-up window versions are handy. The calculator function can allow users to copy their answer data to the clipboard to import into a document or spreadsheet and has many advanced functions. The calendar function is completely searchable and highlights the current day. By using these two features, the need to turn off j7xx Menu is lessened. It truly is a desktop replacement for your HPC.
Finally, j7xx Menu allows users to adjust system level settings on their HPC as well. Storage and Program memory can be adjusted with a simple slide bar while the volume and contrast adjustments bring up the familiar built-in OCDs of the Jornada. Users can also turn the display on their HPC off, turn the device off altogether, or soft-reset the device.
After using j7xx Menu for any amount of time, it should cause you to leave the Start button and taskbar behind. Its simple but effective layout and design makes the traditional Windows interface antiquated at best. Further, the highly customizable interface and menus allow for individuals to personalize the application to suit their needs no matter what those needs happen to be. Since first using j7xx Menu when it was first released in June 2003, I have found this to be one of the simplest but powerful applications available for the Handheld PC format. It is without question a Top-10 "must have" application and well worth its low cost.
J7xx Menu is shareware and is available in a 30-day demonstration mode from the j7xx website. The demo is completely functional so users can try all of the various functions of the application. To register the application is $15, a bargain for the functionality of the application. The registration fees help Henri with further development and to off-set the costs of his highly detailed website.
More information about j7xx Menu can be found on the j7xx website.
j7xxMenu 1.2 can be found at the following URL.